No matter the distribution, the best approach to game planning is an inclusive and diverse teaching style that addresses all the player’s needs.
By Rob Everett
Former Defensive Coordinator
Bridgewater College (VA)
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The process of creating a weekly game plan is a fluid experience. The game plan and corresponding practice plan, should contain elements of familiarity, while incorporating opponent specific components that will get your team ready to perform at its best. This article will focus on the daily workflow of a game planning method we use at Bridgewater College. Each day contains a different phase of the game plan, which will be outlined below. If you are playing on Friday, aim for the game plan to be locked by Wednesday after practice so your team can settle in. It is ok to let them know the staff may be “testing” things to see how they look in practice. It is important to note, no way is the “right” way; coaches should be true to themselves and their teams in order to maximize results.
No matter what the time distribution is, the best approach is an inclusive and diverse teaching style that addresses all the players needs. There are many (free) products out there that supplement a good practice and allow the players and coaches to interact in an additional environment. At Bridgewater College, we use the free simulation program Go Army Edge, which allows us to get on the field in the players eyes (goarmyedge.com). Also, we use google forms to assess and survey our players to understand what they are (or are not) learning. This information helps build the practice plan.
Before a game plan can even be begun, the cataloging of opponent film and data must be done. With the accessibility and ease of the video software that most teams have at their disposal, there is no excuse not to have data points attached to film. Even if your staff is small, there are easy (and cheap) ways to get this data entered. In previous years, we have had student assistants enter data during the school day. They were not football players, but rather students who were interested in being involved with the program or the field of athletic support. The more data entered at the start the better, as this will be the foundation of your teams defensive strategy.
Once the data is entered, your staff should be able to grab a big picture overview of the opponent, which will provide the first step in finding important differences in situations that arise that can be exploited. The following are certain situations to investigate for differences from your opponent’s norm:
- Down and Distance
- Backfield Set
- Score Differential
- Field Zone (Horizontally & Vertically)
- Previous Play Result
Have a base set of situations to investigate and cross reference, but use your instincts on things that may be unique to each opponent.
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- Which practice periods consist of Day 1- “All Downs Day” in Coach Everett’s four-day game plan model.
- Which practice periods consist of Day 2- “All Pressure Day” in Coach Everett’s four-day game plan model.
- Which practice periods consist of Day 3- “3rd Down/Red Zone/Goal Line” in Coach Everett’s four-day game plan model.
- Which practice periods consist of Day 4- “Play Polish/Two-Minute Rally” in Coach Everett’s four-day game plan model.
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Game-planning and practice planning are the foundations of a successful defensive team. There should be consistency from week to week with plans so the players can build off previous weeks. Also, coaches should be using the new technology tools that are available to make player’s learning easier and quicker. Tackling, run fits, formation recognition and situational football are all mainstays from week to week.
Meet Coach Pitman: Coach Rob Everett is a 19-year veteran in the football profession. 13 seasons were spent at the high school level in Virginia, culminating with a state championship with Westfield High School in 2015. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, Coach Everett joined the staff at Bridgewater College as the defensive coordinator. In 3 seasons with the Eagles, the defense finished first in the conference in 4 statistical categories: 3rd down efficiency, total defense, rushing defense and red zone efficiency. In 2019, Coach Everett had the chance to join Mike Singletary in the Alliance of American Football League as a defensive assistant.
Coach Everett is involved with many projects off the field, including advising for the 3D simulation program Go Army Edge, as a tackling consultant at all levels of football through USA Football and assisting programs in best practice teaching methods with technology. Coach Everett is a contributing board member at X&O Labs and recently published a book titled Coaching the 4-2-5 Defense.